Once again, atheists have shut down the First Amendment rights of Christians and Jews with the blessings of a federal court.
For 60 years, the city of Santa Monica, California, has allowed private Nativity and Hanukkah displays in its Palisades Park, which overlooks the ocean and the famed Santa Monica Pier.
But as has happened in so many other places, a tradition enjoyed by an entire community that was just intended to make the world a nicer place drew the attention of a mean-spirited atheist with his nose out of joint because he hates Christians and Christmas.
Atheist Damon Vix wasn’t content with just putting up his protest booth three years ago. Last year, he recruited a bunch of other atheists to flood the city with applications, packing what was supposed to be a fair lottery.
The atheists managed to steal 18 of the 21 spaces, leaving only three for Christian and Jewish groups. They only actually used half of the spaces, leaving the others empty. The ones they did use were filled with signs and displays insulting people who believe in God, including one featuring Richard Dawkins’ “Flying Spaghetti Monster.”
Rather than step in and do something to preserve a community tradition, Santa Monica city officials this year chickened out and just banned all holiday booths in the park.
A federal judge this week rejected the request by the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee to allow the display this year while its lawsuit against the city proceeded. The judge ruled that the city can bar Christian groups from putting up the Nativity displays in the park and that the city had provided other avenues for religious expression.
The city claimed that it wasn’t shutting down the displays because of the religious dispute, but because of growing costs. Yet, it still allows displays elsewhere in the city. The opening of the city’s other parks to displays with permits was just an effort by the city to appear blameless in all of this, and it worked.
But Palisades Park is the prime spot for community groups, providing visibility on one of the city’s main thoroughfares and on the Pacific Coast Highway, as well as from the beach and pier. It’s sort of like if the city of New York decided there could be no Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, but offered a spot at a neighborhood park 10 blocks away instead.
“The atheists won and they will always win unless we get courts to understand how the game is played and this is a game that was played very successfully and they knew it,” said attorney William Becker, who compared the city to Pontius Pilate.
Vix, the troublemaker who started all the problems, said, “So many people don’t understand atheists. If you read the signs we put up, one said, ‘Love is all around you.’ That’s really a better understanding of who most atheists are.”
That statement might be less laughable if atheists weren’t perpetually trying to sue Christians into oblivion with the excuse that they are “offended.”
By hiding behind the law and claiming not to be religious, atheists have made serious inroads through the courts toward the ultimate goal of keeping Christians and Jews from participating in public life.
With the liberal interpretation of church-state separation — a concept not found in the Constitution — the courts are effectively installing a state religion in violation of the First Amendment.
As more and more of our Western heritage is swept aside by the courts, one day the atheist state religion will have to reckon with the power of Islam. On that day, the atheists may long for a little Christmas and Hanukkah.